In a candid interaction with young IAS officers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday underlined that they don’t have more than 10 years to learn, do new things and experiment and that whoever makes maximum use of these 10 years will contribute much more for the remaining 20-25 years of service.
“You don’t have more than 10 years in life to work. Whatever new you do, whatever new you learn, whatever you experiment…you only have 10 years to do it. The rest is you, files and nothing else,” the PM told 169 IAS officers of the 2013 batch who, in a first, commenced their careers with a three-month stint in the Central government.
All these officers were designated and posted as Assistant Secretaries for the first time by the Government of India in various Central government ministries for three months starting August 31 after their Phase-2 training in the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie.
Telling the officers to understand that the systems developed by their predecessors cannot all be meaningless, the PM said that all such systems must have some logic and reasoning behind them. “You are going to take care of one-fifth of the districts in the country in the next 10 years. The fortunes of one-fifth of India’s districts is going to change. If this team can transform these one-fifth districts, I believe that nothing can interrupt the transformation of India. You have a system, you have the right to make decisions, you have the team…the resources. What’s it that you don’t have? You have everything,” Modi said.
But the PM also sounded a cautionary note by telling these officers to ensure that minimize internal struggles within the system. “You may feel that I have come as a big IAS officer while someone may feel that 15 officers like you have come and gone in my tenure. And this leads to an ego clash. You have come in with dreams, he is living holding tradition. A conflict between you dreams and his traditions begins,” he said.
He also advised young officers to contact senior officers who had at some time in the past served in the districts they are posted in. “Write a letter, try to contact them. Ask them about their experiences when they had come there,” he added.
Emphasizing the important of gaining first-hand experience in life, Modi narrated an anecdote about a Chief Minister who had earlier worked at a junior level in the police department. During this person’s chief ministership, the PM said, the son of a prominent politician got kidnapped. “He asked his Intelligence officials to meet the milk-sellers and find out if the demand for milk has suddenly increased somewhere—check whether someone who used to take 500 grams if now taking two litres of milk,” the PM said. Some areas where a sudden increase in the demand for milk were identified and monitored and it finally led the police to the kidnappers. “He used the policing experience he had gained after becoming the Chief Minister. He could think what the entire department couldn’t and that led to all the kidnappers getting caught and the child getting saved. Why did this happen? Because of the experience gained in the early years of one’s life,” Modi added.
The PM added that the gulf between the government and the society cannot be solely bridged by politicians. “We will have to change our nature. It is not necessary that we connect to the society only through an elected body. Our system should have a direct dialogue with society,” he said, exhorting officers to engage in a direct dialogue with citizens and see how their strength increases.
“Tensions and struggles cannot change circumstances. The more you connect people, the more strength you gain,” he added.
The officers gave presentations to the Prime Minister on six key themes, including MUDRA, Improving Government Communication, Citizen Centric Service Monitoring, Ek Bharat – Shreshtha Bharat, Soil Health Card scheme and National Mineral Exploration Policy.